Need some advice re: Glidecam X-22 vs. Steadicam at DVinfo.net

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Old September 24th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #1
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Need some advice re: Glidecam X-22 vs. Steadicam

Hi Guys,

I'm looking for a steadicam/glidecam system for my redrock-equipped EX1 rig. I currently have an EX1 with the Redrock M2E, MicroXe, mattebox, follow focus etc. and my rig comes to around 19lbs without mics or receivers.

I was REALLY wanting to go with a steadicam flyer LE, but their weight limit is 19lbs. I spoke with Dan, their CA sales rep and he did confirm that it's really not a good idea to be working at capacity with these rigs - and if I wanted to add any more weight or a different camera in the future I might be SOL. The next step up, the Steadicam Archer, is way out of my budget at least for the next year or so...

SO, I'm considering the Glidecam X-22. The weight capacity is 25lbs, which seems a bit more reasonable, and that would definitely support my rig. Any thoughts on the glidecam systems? I used a glidecam 4000 and smooth shooter with my bare camera and it did okay, but was difficult to balance. The X-22 system seems to be of a much higher quality, at least from the photos.

In addition - does anyone have any input as to the difference between the $5,500 X-22 and the $10,000 V-25?

Any advice would be much appreciated. I'm looking to stay under $10,000 including batteries etc. The X-22 seems to fall right in that range at around $6,000 which would allow me to grab a few anton-bauer batteries and a charger to complete the rig.

Thanks!
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Old September 24th, 2009, 08:44 PM   #2
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I used a Glidecam V-20 with a 16mm film cam, and it was pretty crude. For example, to change the tilt of the sled, you have to loosen 8 brass thumbscrews and then use an allen-wrench to adjust. With the Steadicam rigs, you just turn one knob to do the same thing. Other things are similar with the Glidecam stuff. If you have lots of time to set it up for each shot, then it works OK, but the Steadicam stuff really does work better.

My advice: lighten up your rig and go with the Flyer. Use lighter rods - carbon fiber or plated aluminum. Power the EX1 from the Flyer battery. Stuff like that.

The reason Steadicam doesn't recommend you buying a rig thats right at the limit is for growth. The Flyer will actually support a little more than 19 pounds, or so I'm told. And many Flyer owners add weight plates to get right up to the 19 pound limit. So I don't think flying 19 pounds is a problem at all. The only issue is if you think you will go to an EX3, RED, or some other heavier setup, or perhaps add even more accessories to the EX1.

If you are really nervous about the weight limit on the Flyer, then the next step up would probably be the ActionCam.
http://actionproducts.ch/apshop/cata...58c0c3bea9509f
These go up to 50 pounds, enought to support a full RED One configuration, but these go for $15K and up.

And make sure you have a good assistant cameraman to run your wireless follow focus. With the shallow focus of a lens adapter, pulling focus is a full time job. If you don't have an AC for this, then I would recommend shooting without the Redrock on the Steadicam shots. Many have produced great projects using lens adapter footage on sticks intercut with non-lens adapter footage on Steadicam. Good lighting and scene design can give the Steadicam shots depth. More on this here:
Best recommended Steadicam for XH A1 with letus35 Elite DOF adapter?
If you go this route, you can use a Steadicam Pilot for around $4K.

Hope this helps.
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Old September 24th, 2009, 10:17 PM   #3
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Very, VERY helpful indeed Dave! My experience with the Glidecam smooth shooter was about the same as what you said - loosening thumb screws became tiring, and it was hard to adjust for different setups.

I'd love to be able to fly the redrock setup, and while I don't have a wireless follow focus (yet) it's something I may get down the road. However, we'd probably be doing most of our steadicam work during the day where we can stop down lenses to get a decent DOF, and manage focus by maintaining a somewhat constant distance between camera and subject - which I've seen people do quite successfully.

I certainly am interested in lightening up my rig as well - it's fairly barebones as it is, and I could do things like remove the french flag, use a smaller battery, or yes, power the camera from the steadicam's battery. Do you know offhand how the outputs are on the steadicam flyer? What would I need to do to pull power from the AB battery to the camera? It seems like a pretty proprietary plug on the back of the camera for power... just wondering how that would work.

My budget is around $10,000, so again, I wouldn't mind getting a flyer - which of course would also allow me to fly a bare EX1, EX3 or a somewhat larger camera, without an adapter if need be.

Oh, also, if you can point me in the direction of a sweet wireless follow focus system I'd be interested in checking 'em out!

Thanks again for all of your help. I look forward to tracking down some more info on all of this!
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Old September 25th, 2009, 04:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Meeks View Post
Do you know offhand how the outputs are on the steadicam flyer? What would I need to do to pull power from the AB battery to the camera? It seems like a pretty proprietary plug on the back of the camera for power... just wondering how that would work.
See here:
EX1 power options.
The Flyer may have a different power connector on the stage, not sure. Probably a custom cable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Meeks View Post
Oh, also, if you can point me in the direction of a sweet wireless follow focus system I'd be interested in checking 'em out!
This is an inexpensive one that this due out soon.
Hocus Products

Or you could rent a Bartech:
http://bartechengineering.com/
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Old September 25th, 2009, 04:56 PM   #5
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Hold on guys,

Are you really comparing the crude and no longer available V-20 to todays Glidecam rigs?

Glidecam has made a lot of effort in to redesigning their rigs to be more user friendly: Every rig now has X-Yvernier adjustments to make balancing a lot easier, quick release plates, redesigned base plates, with counter balance plates that will not move after you tighten them, and the base can slide in and out to increase inertia. This is the HD range BTW.

The X-22, as you can now read on their website, has a completely new arm. It takes only a few pounds to boom through the arm's range. The sled is a simpler version of the V-25 sled. The major difference is that it doesn't have any power or video connectors. They do offer a simple j-box.
It has a drop-in style dove tail plate and X-Y vernier adjustment.
On the base you can have your AB or V-mount battery to power the monitor.
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Old September 25th, 2009, 05:53 PM   #6
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X-22 review here:
NAB2009 Stabilizer Wrap-Up DV Info Net
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Old September 25th, 2009, 07:10 PM   #7
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Hi Pascal,

I was wondering about that too - after researching a bit more, and speaking with Tom at Glidecam this morning, I went ahead and ordered the X-22. The review does state that glidecam intended to fix the "springiness" issue in production models, so I am counting on that.

With the money I saved over the steadicam rig, I was able to purchase a couple of AB Diconic 90 batteries and a charger, a second HD monitor from SmallHD and a nice little ball mount to use instead of the cheesy glidecam mount.

The fore-aft and side to side adjustment on the X-22 is knob adjustment which locks into place after you let go of the knob. I'm really looking forward to trying the new rig out and seeing how it performs. Eventually I'll be able to afford a higher-end stabilizer, but for now I think the glidecam will do just fine!

Thanks to both of you for your input. I'll let you know how it turns out!
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Old September 26th, 2009, 02:19 AM   #8
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I haven't had a chance to evaluate the X22 since NAB, and it was a quick visit with them even then.

The ideal setup for the monitor is a yoke with tension washers that let you adjust pan and tilt without having to lock it. The problem with a ball mount is that it frees up the roll axis of the monitor, which is undesirable--you always want the monitor set with the same horizon as the camera. It's easy to see how having the monitor canted by a degree or two will play a bit of havoc with your perception of what is level in the frame.

I'd suggest modifying the GC version with spring washers between the nuts and bolts that fasten their monitor mount for now. Down the road, making a yoke would be advisable. You can see pictures of the one I had made for the Flyer monitor I use on my lightweight rig here. It pivots around the CG of the monitor so it can be adjusted in pan and tilt without affecting the balance of the system whatsoever--you can easily do it with one hand, while wearing the rig.
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Old September 26th, 2009, 03:42 AM   #9
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Excellent Charles!

I may just ditch the ball mount in that case, and grab an extra U-bracket from Dale while I'm ordering my 2nd DP1. Thanks for the advice! I hadn't thought of that.
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Old September 26th, 2009, 09:02 AM   #10
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Hi Trevor,

I think you've made a good choice with performance and cost in mind. David Stevens and I discussed the new arm and experimented with different settings. The final arm will have the springiness sorted out; it's just a matter of swapping a few bearings for bushings. I fully agree with you that the arm was actually a little too smooth, and it would interfere with your operating. The arm will also 'behave' better: a more linear response curve (if that makes any sense)

Congrats with the new gear!
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Old September 26th, 2009, 09:12 AM   #11
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Swapping bearings for bushings, hmm? Sounds like friction is being artificially introduced into the system--not the best plan. I'm not the engineering expert when it comes to arms, but all current high end arms use ball bearings.

I don't think the issue was that the arm was too smooth (that's the ideal), but it was indeed about linearity.
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Old September 27th, 2009, 01:04 PM   #12
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I think I need to rephrase that about the bearings.

All the usual pivots and axes will have bearings, don't worry about that!

The springiness is an issue for a lot of people, including me, so the arm needs to be toned down a little. It's not much of an issue when you're moving, but a lock-off is very hard to accomplish if the arm is still moving after you've stopped.
Where the Geo arms are very non-responsive, the X arms are almost too responsive.
In any case: it will not do any harm to the arm or affect the performance over time.
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